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Feb 15, 2010
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

One-upping biosimilars

Reformulation and novel drug delivery plays are routinely excoriated by those outside the biopharmaceutical industry as nothing but a way to maintain revenues for aging products. But it's not always a one-way street.

Roche's plans to develop an infusion-free device for subcutaneous delivery of biologic therapeutics should indeed help protect some of its blockbuster franchises from biosimilar competitors. But the approach also should provide convenience and safety for patients. And the company will argue the new route of administration will reduce overall healthcare costs.

Roche plans to invest more than CHF190 million ($185 million) in two new facilities in Mannheim, Germany, and Kaiseraugst, Switzerland, to manufacture the device.

Among the products that would benefit are MabThera rituximab (Rituxan in the U.S.) and Herceptin trastuzumab, Roche's second and third biggest selling products in 2009.

Earlier this month, Roche reported that global sales of Herceptin grew 8% to CHF5.3 billion ($5.1 billion), while MabThera/Rituxan sales advanced 6% to CHF6.1 billion.

"Life cycle management of our existing compounds is a significant part of our strategy as we look to reformulate them to improve their properties and make them more competitive and patient friendly, as well as seeking new indications," Johannes Schmidt, Roche's project leader responsible for...

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